German E Cars Benni unveiled at Frankfurt Motor Show


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Pal Negyesi, European correspondent.


FRANKFURT, Germany - September 18, 2009: Tucked away in Hall 4, among various automotive suppliers, I stumbled into the Changan BenBen, a Chinese small car.

It had an unusual front end and as I soon learned, it wasn't called Changan.

Fraeger Group, which for decades has been a supplier of German car makers with forged and stamped parts, created a new electric powertrain and decided to set up a new company to market it.

The German government recently introduced a new long-term plan with a vision of one million electric cars on German roads by 2020. So it is no wonder that more and more companies are jumping on the bandwagon.

In order to boost its marketing potential, Fraeger Group set up a new company, German E Cars, and got in touch with Changan in China. Changan supplies BenBen shells, while the powertrain is installed in Germany. Benni is 3,5 meter long, its electric engine has a capacity of 56 kW and its range is about 120 km/h.

There are some problems though. Fraeger hopes to sell 1000 cars a year, priced at around EUR 30,000 (about $44,000 US). Now why would anyone pay this much money for an unknown, quirky Chinese car? There were others, especially in the UK who tried the same formula recently and failed badly. We will soon see how the Benni fares on the marketplace.

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